Feeds

Cyber cops and domain name registrars meet to tackle net crooks

Tackling criminal activity on a borderless internet

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Cyber cops from both sides of the Atlantic are meeting with domain name registrars in Brussels today to try to figure out ways to crack down on internet crime.

This second meeting of the "EU-US working group on cyber security and cybercrime" is dedicated to increasing cooperation between law enforcement agencies and the companies that unwittingly sell web addresses to online crooks, according to attendees.

"We're trying to get both sides to communicate, so that we on our side have some idea what they're trying to achieve, and they on their side understand what we're able to do technically," said Michele Neylon, managing director of the Irish registrar Blacknight Solutions.

The two-day consultation comes as police in the US and UK are increasingly turning their attention to domain names as an internet choke-point that can be used to shut down web sites selling counterfeit goods and enabling the trading of pirated movies and child pornography.

The controversial Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), currently being discussed in the US, would codify the government's domain seizure powers. In the UK, the Serious Organised Crime Agency is pushing for a Nominet policy that would make it easier for police to shut down sites selling bogus goods.

But the last two days of meetings in Brussels have focused on discussing ways to help law enforcement crack down on all types on cybercrime, and on ways the domain name industry can self-regulate through policies overseen by ICANN, according to Go Daddy general counsel Christine Jones and other attendees.

Specifically, registrars are responding to recommendations made in October 2009 by the FBI, the Mounties, SOCA, and law enforcement agencies from Australia and New Zealand. The recommendations call on ICANN to conduct more rigorous due diligence before accrediting registrars, and to more aggressively police their conduct thereafter.

Law enforcement is particularly interested in the Whois services that registrars have to provide, which enables anyone to quickly uncover the name, address and phone number of any domain name registrant.

Cops don't like the proxy/privacy add-on services that many registrars offer to shield their customers' personal data from prying eyes.

They want these services either banned or regulated through ICANN, using an accreditation program similar to the one used to approve registrars. Only private individuals engaged in non-commercial activities would be allowed to use privacy services, under these proposals.

They also want ICANN to force registrars to collect more validated data about their customers, and to more effectively control their reseller networks.

Registrars have pushed back to an extent, partly because many of law enforcement's demands could be tricky and/or expensive to implement.

"We take a pretty aggressive approach to these issues already, so it would not be particularly burdensome for Go Daddy, but it could be for some of the smaller registrars that perhaps don't have the resources," said Jones.

A major issue is that obtaining an ICANN registrar accreditation is fairly easy, quite cheap, and as a result there are almost 1,000 approved registrars. Many of these are simply shell companies, and some do not make even basic efforts to comply with ICANN's existing rules.

Complicating matters, some registrars have thousands of resellers, which are not directly bound by ICANN contracts. As it stands, ICANN's compliance department barely has the resources to police its existing registrars; it has been without a senior director of compliance since July last year.

In addition, the aftermath of recent US domain seizures has shown that when law enforcement grabs a .com domain, criminals quickly relocate their websites to country-code domains, which are not subject to ICANN oversight or US jurisdiction.

With all this in mind, registrars have been discussing the best ways to help tackle the very real problem of criminal activity on a borderless internet. It's tricky.

"There's no disagreement about the intent," Jean-Christophe Vignes, CEO of OpenRegistry, said from Brussels. "No self-respecting registrar, and certainly no registrar in the room, would say we don't want to fight crime. The question is: how do we get there?"

The Brussels meeting is reportedly very well attended. Delegates include registrars representing a majority of the world's registered domain names, as well as law enforcement agencies from several European and North American countries. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.